“I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see vessels undock or launch, and I’ve been lucky enough to see – and even be responsible for – many over the years.”

Job: Naval Architect

Naval architect James, wearing glasses and a green and blue checked shirt

James Naval Architect

What does your role entail?

As a naval architect for the Type 31 frigates, I’m responsible for managing integration issues across the whole of the ship, which can range from the physical kind (structural steel and pipework) to the less tangible kind (survivability and stability). I’m currently planning the work required to receive a new frigate that’s being delivered in Rosyth, and uplifting the capability for the new incoming suite of Royal Navy kit, including military satellite communications, radar surveillance, decoy systems and more.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy being based in the shipyard, something which I’ve always sought out in my career placements, as it gives you a sense of perspective as to what the final goal is. I really like being on site and having the opportunity to see the tangible results of our work.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I graduated from Warwick University and joined the DE&S graduate scheme in 2008 as a Mechanical Engineer. Following various stints across the organisation and completion of my master’s degree at University College London, I regraded as a Naval Architect. I was fortunate enough to be selected for an exchange scheme with the Canadian Navy, working as their Naval Architecture Officer at the waterfront on Vancouver Island, before coming back to the UK in 2020 to work in the Type 31 team.

What’s the most memorable project or piece of work you’ve been part of here?

I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see vessels undock or launch, and I’ve been lucky enough to see (and even be responsible for) many over the years. I’m currently looking forward to the launch of HMS Venturer, which will mark the next key milestone in the delivery of the Type 31 project.

What makes your role with DE&S unique or different to doing the same role somewhere else?

As a naval architect you’re often constrained to a particular specialism or platform area. However, at DE&S you have the freedom of opportunity for both. You can choose to specialise in one particular field, such as explosive shock calculations across the whole naval fleet, or you can opt to cover a range of specialities such as structures, stability and hydrodynamics, to help prepare you for a chief engineer role in the future.

Tell us about how it feels to support UK Defence

Every time I’ve been able to go aboard ships as part of my job, I’m reminded of the importance of our role and the work we do. The appreciation we receive from our military customers, and an understanding of the serious operational implications if things don’t go right, certainly helps motivate you to do your best and feel satisfied at the end of the day.

Are you supported to create positive change?

As a public organisation, there are always going to be certain limitations, but if you’ve got a great idea and can demonstrate the value in pursuing it, then you’re encouraged to develop those ideas into proposals to present up the management chain.

What support have you had for your career development?

I’ve had some great mentors and line managers throughout my career at DE&S, whether that’s been for interview practice, course recommendations or setting up professional opportunities in the workplace to further my career development. The Engineering function provides additional support to everyone and is a place where you can ask questions and get advice too.

Would you recommend DE&S as a great place to work, and why?

Yes, I’ve always appreciated the flexibility and the work-life balance that DE&S offers. I’ve gone from being a graduate and trying to absorb every opportunity under the sun, to an older (and hopefully wiser) professional with a family to support. I’ve been able to speak with my managers and colleagues and create a working pattern that work best for me and my family.

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